LACK of ego is a trait unknown to many top class sportsmen but in the case of Gala’s record breaking rugby star Chris Paterson, eagerness to avoid the limelight, and keep his private life just that, has earned him respect from fans and players the world over.
If he is proud to have been made an MBE in this week’s New Year’s Honours List, then he won’t be enjoying the attention that comes with it.
The most capped Scotsman in the history of rugby was recognised for his long and continuing service to the game. Paterson amassed 109 caps for Scotland over a 12-year international career, played in four Rugby World Cups, scored more than 800 points and is regarded as both ambassador and model professional in a game he first played as a youngster in Gala.
He said: “I’ve only ever focused on playing well and doing the supporters, myself and my family proud. To be even nominated for this honour is something I would never have imagined.
“To be recognised in this way for doing something you love to do is a wee bit strange, to be honest, but it’ll be a nice reminder of what I’ve achieved in club and international rugby.”
Paterson recently retired from the international scene but will continue to play for Edinburgh Rugby – 15 years after turning professional.
At an early age, Paterson discovered that rugby was in his environment and genes. He was taught by Rob Moffat and followed in Gregor Townsend’s footsteps, while his brother and father, both named David, played for Gala and his uncle Dunc won 10 Scotland caps. His father and mum Lynn are regular attendees at his games.
“There are so many who have helped with my career, going all the way back to playing at Galashiels Academy,” he said. “Gary Parker and Garry Callander at Gala; Ian McGeechan, Jim Telfer, Frank Hadden, Mick Byrne and all the current Scotland coaching team.
“Through school rugby and my professional career, Rob Moffat was a great mentor and inspiration and always available whenever I needed to chat something through with him.
“I’ve been fortunate to play with so many great players and I’ll never ever forget the cheers of those Murrayfield crowds.”
Mossy, a name bestowed by his brother who reckoned there were similarities between Chris and the small 1980s cartoon dinosaur Moschops, first toured with Scottish schools in 1996, turning pro the next year. He has surpassed just about every record there is for the Scottish national team, passing Gavin Hastings’ points total and Scott Murray’s caps record in quick succession.
Fellow Gala man and current Scotland attack coach, Gregor Townsend, who was made an MBE in 1999 for his services to the game, commented: “When I think of Chris, the words ‘professionalism’, ‘competitor’ and ‘humility’ are closely linked to how he has conducted himself over his career.
“I’d also add ‘inspirational’ – thousands of kids will have taken up the game in Scotland thanks to his exploits on the field and his exemplary demeanour off it.
“He deserves to be recognised for all these qualities and I’d like to pass on the congratulations of everyone associated with the game.”